Should industrialists be considered symbols of American business ingenuity or of ruthless business practices? Explain your answer.Should they be?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A question like this seems to embody a great many contradictions to a simplistic answer.  Bearing this in mind, I would like to posit a divergent answer from the previous post.  Indeed, there is much to American industrialism that can be seen as ingenious.  Perhaps, the ingenious aspect to American industrialists would be how they were and are able to maintain so much of their acquired wealth for personal profit as well as being able to generate so much wealth on the backs of others.  American History has had a difficult time attempting to articulate whether the titans of industry which dated back to the start of the 20th century and even earlier were inventive geniuses of capitalism or represented what President Roosevelt called "the malefactors of great wealth."  Like so much, if there is answer, it might encompass both extremes.  As previously suggested, many industrialists do possess extremely compelling attributes that can constitute as symbols of ingenuity.  Yet, at the same time, some credence must be given to the argument that there are industrialists who engage in ruthless business practices.  We need only look at the horrific condition in which workers in the first half of the 20th century had to endure and the lack of legislation which protected both the income of these workers and the occupational hazards they endured.  Certainly, industrialists were aware of such realities, yet they chose not to take an active role in stopping this abuse because of not wanting to harm the profit making potential of the business of out of pure apathy.  I am not sure that accepting a portion of one premise of genius can be done without accepting a portion of the other as representing ruthless business practice.   Certainly, it would be unreasonable to demonize alll industrialists with such a claim, yet there is enough to suggest that there is validity present.  If one were to project into a modern sphere of existence, the same application is present.  For example, moder industrialists are both vital to the proper functioning of our economies of scale, yet I think that the current economic crisis has exposed some of the drastic and caustic conditions of wealth that paint industrialists into a undesired corner, to a certain extent.

krishna-agrawala | Student

American business has played a very important role in development of developing effective and innovative practices in business, industry and in management. Companies like Ford, General Motors, and IBM showed the way to the entire world to improved ways of managing and conducting business. These companies and their leaders have not only made huge profits for their share holders, but they also made substantial contribution to the wealth of the country. IN addition they became role model for many businesses and business leaders in many countries. Thus, I would definitely consider American businessman and industrialists as symbols of business ingenuity.

Of course some large American businesses have also been rightly accused of ruthless business practices. But that just not change the fact that America has, for a long time, led the way in developing and using customer friendly and effective business practices.